90.1 FM San Luis Obispo | 91.7 FM Paso Robles | 91.1 FM Cayucos | 95.1 FM Lompoc | 90.9 FM Avila
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Steam train adventure aboard Tennessee Valley Railroad with 28 year-old Engineer at the throttle

Thomas Wilmer

  The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) in Chattanooga, Tennessee offers daily excursions along an historic route that first opened to rail traffic back in 1858.

It was the railroad’s strategic importance that led to the Civil War Battle of Chickamauga that was fought here back in the fall of 1863. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGjZKSbXERc" style="line-height: 1.5;">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGjZKSbXERc

With the demise of steam engines in the mid 1950s, and the rerouting of Southern Railways tracks that circumvented the old circa-1858 Missionary Ridge tunnel, a group of railroad buffs stepped in to save a unique piece of Tennessee history.

They formed the TVRM in 1961 to preserve, restore and operate historic railroad equipment along the abandoned short line. By 1971 the non-profit group was offering regularly scheduled train trips pulled by ancient steam powered locomotives, and the mission continues today

Join correspondent, Tom Wilmer reporting from TVRM’s Grand Junction Station where we caught up with Tim Andrews, who’s President of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

And then it was time to climb aboard the “Missionary Ridge Special” for a short, but extraordinarily memorable trip back in time in the cab of the classic old Southern Railways’ engine number 630, with 28 year-old engineer, Zach Gilmore at the throttle.

Sitting atop the coal car right behind Zach, it was like being in the innards of a mechanical dragon, especially palpable when the fireman opened the flu and stoked the coals as flames licked at the open door and the articulating metal panels creaked and groaned as the engine literally hissed and huffed and puffed.  

Credit Thomas Wilmer
28 year-old engineer, Zach Gilmore at the throttle in the cab of old Tennessee Valley Railroad steam engine

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR Podcast travel show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer via: 

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
Related Content